Growing up I always dreamt of skating in Central Park, but at the time I had never visited America and my dream was simply fueled by movies I had seen – it seemed to represent the perfect Christmas scene. I’d forgotten all about that dream until we bought our house here, however, and then during our first Christmas I saw that there was an ice-skating rink in Rochefort.  It seemed that decades later my wish was to finally come true, although the country and setting were different. In reality though, the magic is exactly how I imagined it would be. There are laughs and giggles, the smooth swoosh of skates on ice and everyone has rosy, glowing cheeks from exertion in the chill air.


 With some considerable work and effort the Place Colbert, right in the heart of Rochefort, is transformed into an open air rink for most of December and half of January.  Lots of Christmas trees are brought in and little wooden chalets appear selling local delicacies and crafts.



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and no one can deny Rochefort is looking radiant in the winter sunshine


It will be of little surprise to you all then that we spent yesterday afternoon skating



and quite naturally we then enjoyed chocolat chaud in the late afternoon sun



Christmas here does not explode in a blaze of colour at the end of November, rather it slowly evolves as December unfolds; each day a new light will appear, a new stall at the market, a new delicacy in the boulangerie. Streets and shops are decorated, Christmas trees appear in the windows of houses, wreaths welcome the visitor or passerby at front doors and green garlands of fur with red bows replace the red geraniums of summer in window boxes. It’s all very subtle, but it wets the appetite and feeds our anticipation and excitement; it’s not everyone’s idea of a perfect Christmas, but I rather like it.



Further afield, Christmas markets take place most weekends


and in Pont-l’Abbé the ancient archway under the old prison, a road I travel twice a day on the school run, is lit up to perfection.


It’s all part of the build up to Christmas in our little corner of France.



  1. That brings childhood memories, skating on the canals or town squares, hot chocolate or hot aniseed milk, Thank you.

  2. We were in Nice and it was fun to see the children trying to skate for the first time. I grew up in Ottawa in Canada and we have the longest skating rink.The Rideau Canal. When it freezes they scrape it and water it until it is perfect. Hours of skating and yes hot chocolate.

    1. Hi Ali, you have no idea how envious I am!!! However, our small temporary rink has to suffice, but it is beautiful, our children are all pretty good on skates and they really have to be, the rink is crowded and fast. Have a wonderful Christmas and a safe trip home

  3. What a Beautiful post with Amazing Photos!! It brought back memories for me, too, as I used to skate ALL the time during the winter months right up until I got married,,,,,then children came along as well as weight gain and I suddenly could not even balance myself on the skates! So bizzaar – felt like I had never skated before. This was 12 years ago and I have been too afraid to try again. Now, I just watch skaters while I enjoy my cocoa from the sidelines….

  4. A lovely, peaceful and slowly evolving Christmas celebration sounds just what the world could use right now. I can think of several cities where I have seen, and sometimes experienced, the temporary outdoor ice rinks (Washington, London, NY, Minneapolis, Bruges, etc.). So nice to see folks enjoying a lighthearted moment of fun. Similar to Rochefort, Bruges’ small ice rink in the town square is surrounded by Christmas stalls and at night the beautiful old buildings in the square are also strewn with lights. Very magical. Love the late afternoon light in your photos.And Chocolat Chaud–yum!

    1. Hi Mary, for me this is the perfect build up to Christmas! I have visited Bruges several times but never at Christmas, it sounds absolutely beautiful and as you say the old buildings with subtle lighting always look so beautiful. Merry Christmas to you

    1. Thank you Sheran, you are quite direct, it is our youngest daughter, who is 9. It was actually taken quite by accident, she skated up to me too quickly as I was taking a photo!!!

  5. Ah! a lovely sight! I remember when they had an ice rink behind Winchester Cathedral, with all the chalets and Carols playing. The atmosphere was wonderful, seeming like days past and a glimpse of how it could be… I think a slow, simple build up to Christmas is perfect. I’m fed up with the early start in the shops, Carols playing in November and the greed and rush that seems to ensue. We need to return to the simple message of Christmas, whether one is religious or not, and that is about family being together, children laughing and opening (not too many!) presents and sitting around the table enjoying a special meal cooked with love. “What the World Needs Now, is………..”
    Have a wonderful Christmas in your lovely French home.

    1. Hi Marian, I could not agree more with you, and it’s what we are striving so hard for with our own family, that they enjoy so many of the little things about Christmas, helping to make mince pies, decorating the tree, choosing gifts for other people, there is so much fun to be had in so many of the little things. I wish you a very very Happy Christmas and thank you as always for your fabulous support x

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